exercise reduces pain after breast surgery

With the opioid crisis raging in the United States, many women who are planning breast surgery are concerned about reducing the need for pain medication during the post-op period.

In this post, we examine one way to reduce the amount of pain medication needed after breast surgery and discuss some of the studies which detail the benefits of early post-op movement.

Post-Operative Movement Reduces Pain

According to the Breast Surgery Guidelines of Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) Society, “Postoperative physical rehabilitation programs in breast cancer patients improve mobility, reduce pain, and improve quality of life.”

This specifically points out the benefits in breast cancer patients, but it really pertains to all post-surgery patients.

In a study published in The Journal of Pain, it was found that “exercise impacts both central pain modulation and psychological attributes related to pain.” They go on to say that “this study provides further support for the integration of psychological and physiological aspects of non-pharmacological pain management with exercise interventions.”

Here, they are saying that patients were able to enhance their pain management by integrating an exercise or movement protocol into the post-operative period.

Your Exercise Protocol Should be Tailored to Your Surgery Type

Before you plan to run a marathon after your surgery, let us clear something up for you- when we use the word “exercise,” it may not be exactly what you think of when you hear that word. Most people think about lifting weights, hitting the gym, going for a run, and while all those things can certainly be beneficial in the long run, this is not what we mean when we discuss exercise protocols directly after surgery.

What is important here is to start slow, and take your surgical procedure into account. At The Chrysalis Method, we first follow your surgeon’s guidelines for the post-op phase and introduce low impact movements early, progressing in intensity only when it is cleared by your surgeon.

The Chrysalis Method was designed by a doctor of physical therapy who also recovered from a breast surgery herself. Both experiences – working with patients post-operatively as well as undergoing a breast surgery as a patient  – helped Dr. Simpson customize The Chrysalis Method so that it is tailored specifically for women following breast surgeries.

According to an article on ScienceDirect.com, “physical activity significantly improves pain and related symptoms.”  Reducing pain through movement is one of many benefits of physical activity following any surgery. Tailoring physical activity to your specific surgery type can be beneficial for multiple health reasons.

Always Discuss Exercise Programs with Your Doctor First

We know that surgery is often thought of as a time to take it easy and get plenty of rest. While you should certainly not push yourself, an article on Physiopedia points out that this thought process is actually counterintuitive. Many patients believe that as long as they feel pain, they should reduce mobility and activity. However, the article states that “Regular physical activity helps in preventing ill effects of immobility. It prevents joint stiffness, muscle tightness and helps in blood circulation.”

For many breast surgery patients, the most painful aspect of the surgery is the intense muscle tightness experienced after placement of implants. Studies show that beginning a supervised or prescribed exercise or movement protocol can reduce that tightness which in turn decreases the pain levels and can reduce your need for pain medication after surgery.

Founder Lauren Simpson created a quick video to demonstrate an exercise that can help to regain range of motion and reduce pain levels after surgery.

As always, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. If you are interested in following a protocol after your breast surgery, click here for more information about our 12-week online post-operative program. You do not have to have a doctor’s order to start The Chrysalis Method, however we take an active approach to your overall well-being and communication with your surgeon is recommended.

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